By Jason Epps, CFP®, CRPC®
It’s pretty rare these days to hear anyone complain about a lack of options. Whether it’s selecting a restaurant or finding a doctor, the multitude of choices can feel overwhelming. When it comes to choosing a financial advisor, the stakes are even higher. How do you know which one will be the right fit for your situation or personality? How do you know if you’ll like them or work well with them?
The financial professional you choose to handle your family’s wealth will have a significant impact on your investment strategy, the fees you pay, and your confidence in your financial future. This is not a decision to take lightly, especially since each planner has a different level of service, experience, and ability. Taking all that into consideration, it’s vital to take your time to find a planner that meets your needs and makes you feel at ease. When you start your search, ask potential candidates the following questions to help you gain a better understanding of who they are and how they do business.
1. Are You a Fiduciary?
There’s a reason this is the first question—its importance cannot be overstated. An advisor who serves as a fiduciary accepts a responsibility to put his or her clients’ interests ahead of their own in all decisions. A fiduciary is legally required to avoid conflicts of interest and remain unbiased in their recommendations and advice.
How can you know for certain that a planner you’re interviewing is a fiduciary? The firm will either be listed as a Registered Investment Advisor or the advisors on the team will hold certifications that hold them to the fiduciary standard, such as the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™or Certified Public Accountant professional designations.
KFA Private Wealth Group is a registered investment advisory firm and abides by the fiduciary standard of professional conduct.
2. What Credentials Do You Hold?
Credentials and education play a critical role in your planner’s competence. There are hundreds of designations in the financial services field, and some are more applicable to your needs than others. (1)
Advisors on our team hold the CFP® certification, which requires comprehensive education and experience. In addition, our team members hold other credentials, including the Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor℠, CRPC®, and Certified Public Accountant (CPA) designations. We pursue education and credentials because of our commitment to continuous learning and dedication to providing unparalleled client service.
Use a designation-check database to learn more about the credentials financial planners can earn, and ask the planners you are researching what they do to continually hone their skills and stay up to date in the industry.
3. What Is Your Planning and Investment Philosophy?
It’s important to work with a financial advisor who shares a planning and investing philosophy similar to your own. Does your planner stick to a scientific, evidence-based approach? Do they believe in buy-and-hold or do they move to cash when the market looks shaky? Talk with a financial advisor about how they guide clients’ investing and financial decisions.
At KFA, we know that implementing a sound asset allocation strategy is a key way to efficiently generate wealth and achieve your long-term financial objectives. Our investment strategies are customized to your unique goals and needs so you can maximize your growth while protecting your wealth. We have adopted sound processes and empirically driven solutions, which allows us to focus on what we can control while reducing the risk and stress to the extent possible surrounding what cannot be controlled.
4. How Are You Compensated?
Financial planning and investment costs can be confusing, and often some financial advisors don’t readily disclose their fees. As fee-based planners, our clients always know what they’re paying and what they’re receiving for their money. We want our clients to feel comfortable with their strategies and confident that there are no hidden fees eating away at their hard-earned savings.
At KFA, our fees vary and the amount you pay will depend, for example, on the services you receive, the complexity of your situation, and your income and assets.
5. Who Do You Serve?
Some financial advisors focus on serving a specific demographic or level of investable assets, so you’ll want to find this out before choosing a planner. Why is this important? Because you deserve advice and services tailored to your unique needs.
Our clients are high-net-worth individuals who come to us for help because they desire a customized, disciplined strategy and a holistic approach to managing their assets and reaching their long-range goals. Our clients expect and deserve the highest level of personalized service and care. To support this commitment, we limit our relationships to ensure that we can deliver proactive planning, investment management, and concierge-level client service consistently and dependably. Limiting new relationships in this manner enables us to safeguard the service experience our existing clients know and appreciate while ensuring an exceptional service experience for new clients.
6. Who Will I Be Working With?
At some firms, you may work with multiple financial advisors depending on your appointment time or needs, while other firms may pair you up with one financial advisor with whom you’ll work one-on-one. This is important to know so you can meet the team members with whom you might be collaborating.
You will build a strong relationship with your primary planner at KFA, and we have stellar support staff in place to ensure you receive the highest level of service. While most of this is performed in-house, on the occasion services are outsourced, we partner with the industry’s most trusted professionals and oversee the transactions every step of the way. Everyone at KFA works as a team, and we spend a lot of time getting to know our clients and their goals, striving to put your dreams at the heart of your financial plan.
7. What Financial Planning Services Do You Offer?
Not all financial advisors can provide comprehensive financial planning. Ask your financial advisor what services they provide, whether or not they have a focus or niche, and if they offer a broad spectrum of solutions to meet your needs. When creating a plan together, be sure to ask your planner why they are recommending particular services and solutions over others. KFA Private Wealth Group’s comprehensive services include financial planning, retirement income strategies, investment management, tax & accounting, estate & insurance, retirement plans for businesses, and more.
8. What Sets You Apart From Other Financial Planners?
We know you have plenty of options to choose from, but there are a few things we do differently:
- Our in-house tax preparation arm and multiple CPAs is a key differentiator from other financial planning firms. Through this integration, we’re able to ensure every aspect of your tax situation is adequately addressed.
- Our client relationships are built on integrity, dependability, and accountability. We are passionate about what we do and confident in how we do it.
- We provide a “white glove experience,” offering a level of care and attention to our clients that sets us apart. Our unparalleled service commitment means we treat every client as if they were our only client. We communicate regularly, remain accessible, and are with you on this financial journey every step of the way.
- Our specialized expertise allows us to develop plans that maximize the resources available to you, reduce taxes, prepare for retirement, and protect your family. Instead of trying to be your own financial advisor, worrying something will slip through the cracks, or making innocent mistakes, you can rest assured that someone you trust is carrying your financial burden and watching out for your future like it’s their own.
9. How Do We Meet?
These days it’s not unusual for firms to offer both in-office and virtual appointments. If you’re someone who travels a lot, you may prefer an advisor who is easily accessible in a virtual environment. For those who prefer a more personal touch, make sure the planner is someone who is available to meet in the office.
10. How Will I Know if Your Firm Is Right for Me?
When selecting your planner, the relationship should feel right, and you should never feel pressured to make a decision quickly. We offer a complimentary consultation, during which you can ask questions, evaluate our processes and services, determine if our personality is a good fit, and get the information you need to make an informed decision.
Don’t Rush Into Anything
A financial advisor should be happy to answer these questions—and any others—about how they do business. If you don’t know where to start, ask friends and family for referrals to set you down the right path.
At KFA Private Wealth Group, working with us is about the experience. It’s at the core of what we do and why we exist. If you’d like to learn more about who we are and what we do, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for an introductory meeting by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 301-305-8875 to schedule an appointment.
Jason Epps is vice president and private wealth advisor at KFA Private Wealth Group, a registered independent advisory firm founded on the premise of providing conflict-free financial and investment advice. With over 15 years of experience, Jason possesses the unique knowledge and expertise necessary to provide his clients with the most applicable and beneficial financial guidance that helps them find confidence in their financial future. Jason is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioner and a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor℠, CRPC®, and believes that a financial plan is only as strong as the advisor’s understanding of the core values and beliefs of each client. He serves a diverse range of clients, from young accumulators to pre-retirees and retirees, including business owners and professionals in a variety of fields. Jason is passionate about giving back to his community and volunteers with various organizations in the D.C. metro area. He also has coached youth travel and AAU basketball since 2009. When he’s not working, you can find Jason spending time with friends and family, traveling, trying out new restaurants, and cheering on local D.C. sports teams. To learn more about Jason, connect with him on LinkedIn.